The purpose of this paper is to examine the origins and the business model of department stores in Mexico between 1891 and 1910.
Primary and secondary source material support an historical and comparative study of retailing and marketing evolution in a market on the global periphery.
This paper finds that Mexico's vanguard position in establishing the first purpose‐built department stores in Latin America is closely linked to the strong presence of an immigrant entrepreneurial class from the Barcelonnette region of France in the retailing and textile manufacturing sectors. Mexican department stores followed Parisian models, policies, and innovations closely, yet accommodated local customs and conditions. The stores served as showcases for the success of the national government's economic and cultural modernization program and as cultural primers for Mexican consumers.
Scholarly work on department stores, consumerism, and the influential French community in Mexico is extremely limited, especially so in English. This is the first work that brings these together and analyzes them within – and in relation to – the context of Mexico's rapid modernization during the era of President Porfirio Díaz from 1876 to 1911. It also undermines the notion that the USA is the first and most influential foreign influence on modern Mexican consumer culture.
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